Avoid rules and encourage independent decision-making. Establish transparency, seek excellence and be innovative. These core values are grounded in the Netflix ethos and brand philosophy.
This is what Talia Williams, a recruiter at Netflix, with a broadcast journalism degree from USC Annenberg in 2003, shared with a group of carefully selected USC Annenberg students.
“As Annenberg graduates think about their careers, these Treks provide them a huge advantage over other talent looking for jobs. They get to establish connections by physically being on site,” said Williams.
This is the third year in a row for the USC Annenberg Career Development Career Treks and this past visit, held on Feb. 9 at the Netflix office in Los Angeles, was the second of four events planned this semester.
Through these Treks, current students and alumni get to network in an intimate setting and are given visibility to different types of companies and the people who work there.
Out of 165 undergraduate and graduate applicants, only forty-one were selected to attend and participate in this question-and-answer style panel discussion. Students had the opportunity to connect with USC Annenberg alumni in a professional setting, as well as gain insight into the Netflix culture. While panelists focused on how Netflix fosters a team-oriented workplace, they also talked strategy and marketing campaigns.
“Talia was very enthusiastic about pulling together a few alums from across Netflix departments to speak about their transition from USC Annenberg to the media industry,” shared Miracle McClain, assistant director of USC Annenberg Industry Relations.
Williams wanted to offer students a chance to witness what their future could look like.
“None of us are doing what we thought we would do, but the skills you are getting now,” said Williams, also on the Annenberg Alumni Board of Advisors, “will help you navigate your career and set you up for this type of work environment.”
In addition to Williams, panelists included Cynthia Chang, B.A. Journalism ’10, Danielle Lee, B.A. Communication ’12 and M.A. Communication Management ’13, and Karan Singh, M.A. Communication Management ’13.
“It is great that Annenberg sets up these types of series,” Lee, a producer of global product, said. “I didn’t even know my job type existed — it is very niche and specific to this company and this type of digital landscape we currently live in. Current students here today are getting the chance to see and learn about positions like mine.”
“Exposure,” Williams said, “is key. We are all very aware that paths meander in ways we could never expect and can lead to unexpected destinations.”
Panelists also spoke to the Netflix directional approach and their goal in creating a collective “dream team.”
Their independent roles and departmental delegations, Singh shared, all affect each other. As the senior social media researcher, it is important in Singh’s role to identify failures and make the right decisions based on data, research and practice.
As alumni, the panelists also pointed to the knowledge obtained through their education at USC and Annenberg — and how they have utilized those skills to further their career.
“It was the writing I did at Annenberg that helped me once I got here,” said Lee. “I wrote a ton of papers and it is so important in my job now to communicate a point and defend that point.”
For Chang, a marketing manager, part of her responsibility is tackling big strategy shifts and taking big risks.
While an undergraduate, Chang learned to trust her instincts, make strong arguments, and work in groups — skills she has since applied at Netflix.
“You have to be a self-starter here at Netflix and having that maturity and experience that I learned at USC has helped,” she added. “Annenberg offers every resource needed and is well connected — even talking to fellow alumni helped guide me towards success.”
Mahan Chitgari, a senior communications student who attended the event, said she intends to work in the entertainment industry. “Learning how Netflix functions from a tech perspective was really informative and will be helpful when I start looking for a job after graduation,” she said.
Ariana Seymore, a first-year graduate student in the communication management program, wants to work in television. She attended the Trek wanting to learn more about Netflix and its operations. “I came in with an open mind,” she said. “There were huge takeaways, but one that stood out was how Netflix navigates within its workspace. They give their employees freedom and establish their trust — I appreciate that,” she said.
“The access that Annenberg, and USC in general, gives students is invaluable,” said Williams. “The more you give students practical exposure to the paths they can take, and the work it takes to get there, the more of an opportunity students have to make it a reality.”
The next USC Annenberg Career Development Career Trek is planned on March 23 at Buzzfeed.